Work hazards for an aging nursing workforce

Academic Article


  • Aim: To discuss selected work hazards and safety concerns for aging nurses. Background: Greater numbers of older nurses remain in the workforce. Projections suggest that one-third of the nursing workforce will be over age 50 years by 2015. Employers will struggle to find ways to protect the health and safety of their aging workforce and prevent a massive loss of intellectual and human resources when these experienced nurses exit the workforce. Evaluation: Review of recent relevant literature in English language journals. Key issues: Repetitive motion injuries, fatigue and slips, trips and falls are three major work hazards older nurses face. We discuss several factors for each hazard, including: the normal physiological aging effects of diminished strength, hearing and vision; workplace variables of work schedules, noise and clutter; and personal characteristics of sleep disturbances, overexertion and fatigue. Conclusions: Inconclusive evidence exists to guide best practices for designing safe workplace environments and shift patterns for nursing work. Implications for nursing management: There are at least two areas administrators can reduce work hazards for older workers: (1) modification of the workplace, and (2) creating the infrastructure to support the aging workforce to encourage healthy behaviours.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Phillips JA; Miltner R
  • Start Page

  • 803
  • End Page

  • 812
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 6